Texas gets involved in Israel’s fight with Ben & Jerry’s over West Bank boycott

A family enjoys the client sights at Ben & Jerrys factory in Waterbury, Vermont on June 24, 2021.

Christiana Botic | Boston Globe | Getty Pictures

The fight between Israel and Palestinians is spilling over into 30 U.S. states with guidelines on their books preventing pension funds from investing in companies that refuse to enact switch with the Jewish enlighten.

The freshest instance contains the socially conscious ice cream be conscious Ben & Jerry’s, the West Bank and Texas.

Earlier this week, the Ben & Jerry’s board acknowledged it will maybe perchance perchance no longer allow gross sales in areas it believes Israel must no longer have interaction watch over. The company launched a assertion pronouncing “we give it some thought’s inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be supplied in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” 

The company, now owned by worldwide particular person big Unilever, has supplied its be conscious in Israel for decades by a local Israeli distributor. Unilever acknowledged it will maybe perchance perchance glance a recent deal to sell ice cream in Israel, but no longer in territory claimed by Palestinians for a enlighten of their very like.

In Israel, companies are avoided from treating customers and subsidiaries differently in what Israel calls “disputed territory” versus these in what worthy of the field acknowledges as Israeli territory. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett vowed this week to “act aggressively” against the ice cream company, which modified into basically based in 1978 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who’re Jewish and revolutionary-minded.

The American flag and the Texas Divulge flag glide over the Texas Divulge Capitol in Austin, Texas.

Brian Snyder | Reuters

Now, Texas is getting concerned. 

A spokesman for Republican Gov. Greg Abbott informed CNBC on Tuesday night: “Ben and Jerry’s system to boycott parts of Israel is disgraceful and an insult to The US’s closest ally in the Center East.” The assertion went on to tell: “Unilever, Ben and Jerry’s mother or father company, have to reverse this sick-conceived option.”

Abbott signed a invoice into guidelines  four years ago that will perchance perchance force Texas pension funds to divest from any company boycotting Israel.

Divulge Comptroller Glenn Hegar, who controls billions of bucks in property for Texas’ public pension funds has already informed his build of job to bewitch action. In a assertion to CNBC he acknowledged, “I’ve directed my workers to settle whether any explicit action has been taken by Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever would trigger a itemizing below Chapter 808 of the Texas Authorities Code,” the guidelines handed in 2017.

It is additionally that you just could well perchance utter gross sales in states with anti-boycott guidelines could well perchance very successfully be impacted. If Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever bids for a contract at a public institution, they is presumably disqualified if the boycott becomes a reality.

Florida enlighten CFO Jimmy Patronis, who controls public pension funds, informed CNBC his build of job started discussing the design Tuesday morning. “I to find what’s taking build very relating to,” he acknowledged in a text. But he wasn’t prepared to tell what action could well perchance very successfully be taken.

Airbnb modified into the closing company to search out itself tangled in a identical design. In 2018, the apartment set acknowledged it modified into banning listings of Israeli property in the West Bank, territory Palestinians claim must be piece of their enlighten. 

An Airbnb itemizing in Israel


But the company reversed itself about a months later and now appears to be like at listings on a “case-by-case attain” per a assertion on its net set.

Ben & Jerry’s board, which has a racy settlement with mother or father company Unilever allowing for an outsized feature in choices concerning social disorders, initiated the transfer this week to tug out of Israel.

After Ben & Jerry’s assertion, Unilever launched one among its like Monday pronouncing “we remain completely dedicated to our presence in Israel, the build we like invested in our folk, brands and switch for plenty of decades.” To boot, the company’s CEO spoke this week with Bennett. After the dialog, Israel’s contemporary prime minister acknowledged: “That is an action that has severe consequences, at the side of lawful, and it (Israel) will bewitch real action against any boycott directed against its voters.”

Ben & Jerry’s Chair Anuradha Mittal has no longer answered to CNBC concerning the affect of the option and the possibility that enlighten pension funds could well perchance divest from Unilever. In a cellphone interview Thursday, Ben & Jerry’s spokesman Sean Greenwood acknowledged: “The company has nothing to add beyond the distinctive assertion” issued Monday.

Talking to NBC News earlier this week, Mittal went after Unilever for issuing its like assertion on the design calling it “deceit.” She added: “I can not discontinuance thinking that right here’s what occurs while you happen to like a board with all females and folk of coloration who were pushing to enact the merely ingredient.”

Unilever has no longer returned CNBC calls or emails making an strive to search out reaction to the possibility of divestment by enlighten pension funds.